This month you will release your fifth studio album: Congratulations!! 2006 was the year of your debut album ‚Johnossi‘ and so far every album felt cosy to me because I got to know you as this rocky-itchy-catchy-dirty band and it was always a bit like coming home to listen to a new record of yours. This time it’s going to be different. I read so many interesting things about your new baby ‚Blood Jungle‘. For example that you travelled to the Amazonas. Who came up with the idea, what were your intentions and how did it work out??
John: I came up with the idea. I had been curious about the healing powers of ayahuasca for a pretty long time and then finally one day I just decided that now was the time. I just had to do it. So I explained the whole thing to Ossi and he pretty much instantly agreed to come along with me. It ended up to be a fantastic two week adventure in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon.
You also said, that you took part at the rituals of the people who are living in the Amazonas jungle. To me it sounded like a scene from ‚Avatar‘ when you mentioned the energy floating from the trees etc. Was it like the Beatles in Rishikesh back in the days??
John: There were definitely moments that reminded us of sceneries from ‚Avatar‘. James Cameron probably knows a thing or two about psychedelics. I have no idea of what it was like for the Beatles doing LSD in India but many psycho active medicines have similarities so my answer is, yes maybe it was.
Even the cover of your new record is more colourful and seems -aside from your serious face expressions- almost happy. Did you experience an inner change on your trip that you tried/needed to capture in the cover?
John: I think so yes. Of course it’s impossible to say since we can never know what kind of record we would have done if we didn’t go through life the way we did in between ‚Transition‘ and ‚Blood Jungle‘. But yeah, we really wanted to make a more colourful uplifting and a bit more positive record this time around. And I really think we actually pulled it off!
I saw you quite regulary within the last the ten years live and your performances were intense every single time. You never lost a single spark of energy. Is touring the best part of your job or do you also enjoy the writing and recording process??
John: We really enjoy the whole creative side of our job. Playing live, writing songs, recording and producing. But yes, the live part has always been a very important thing for us and the main reason for how we manage to always stay on top of things and keep the fire burning I think is that we, for some reason, both carry this strong underlying need to prove to ourselves and the world every night that we aren’t no fucking quitters. That we will give it all or nothing, that there is only one way to do it in order for us to get a satisfactory feeling afterwards. The day we go on stage and just give 60% off our full capacity will be a very tragic day. For the audience yes, but mostly for us.
‚Royal Blood‘, ‚Slaves‘, ‚Black Keys‘. There are quite a few two piece bands out there and they all do complete live sets – it never feels like anything is missing. Do you think it’s an advantage because you can do whatever you want to or is it more exhausting because you have to fill the songs with ‚only‘ drums and guitar??
Ossi: Well, for us, it’s the perfect frame to work within and it gives us a limitation when it comes to having too many options. For us, that’s a good thing. However, we always try out new ways to work and develop our sound without letting it get out of hand. Some years ago we took the decision to add Mattias Franzén on stage which gave us more room to add an extra layer live. But I guess the struggle on stage to keep the boat floating is something that keeps us on edge at all time. There is basically no time to relax and that’s how we like it.
Your live sets are always sweaty and intense. What was the funniest experience you had on stage, did something go completely wrong??
Ossi: I could probably count the shows that had no technical fails on one hand. Most often the crowd won’t even notice it, but if John’s guitar goes dead, or if my kick pedal breaks in half, it will be noticed. At one show at the Roskilde Festival, John’s amp caught fire and my kick pedal broke in two pieces within the first two seconds of the show. That was hard not to notice. The thing is, for me at least, when something like this happens when you’re at a live show, it gives you the insight that this is live and is happening right here, right now. There is nothing more uninteresting than a flawless live show. For the spectators anyway…
What are your plans for the next months, will we be able to see you at a German festival, maybe??
Ossi: We hope to play a lot of German festivals this summer! But right now on the 1st of March we are going on a two week European tour and it will include some German cities of course. Please check out johnossi.com for updates. We love touring in Germany, so for us it’s always special to go there.